June 23, 2009: The Best I Can Do

Whistler, Canada – Today was our last day of camp and after much hoping and praying for decent weather, I awoke to a bright and sunny day. Finally! In the warm temps we set a course that paralleled that of the Canadian National Team. It was great to watch them ride and compare our speed to some of the best riders in the world with a beautiful backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.

I really went for it on my first run, wanting to start the day off and continue with this type of ‘wanting it’ aggression. And it felt really good, especially for the first run of the day. (Usually it takes me a few runs to get comfortable.) But after my coach told me that we don’t have to be super aggressive on the course; instead he would rather us work on technical things even if that meant slowing down. Then he proceeded to tell me that I needed to be more patient especially on my heelside and I was starting my turns too early and as a result had to feather or double turn to make the gate. I was a little disheartened because I thought I had a pretty good and smooth run, and I was able to harness on command the desire to really go for it. So I toned it back and focused on the technical stuff.

Then I started thinking too much and staying in my head instead of riding and feeling the snow. I would focus on being patient on the heelside before initiating the turn, but then I wasn’t getting the board up enough on angle. Then the next run when I focused on getting the board angle up, my line would be too straight. It was super frustrating; when I focused on one side of things the other suffered and vice versa. I was so focused on trying to get it right that I let the frustration get to me and affect my riding and spirits.

There was a new thing that the coach had me work on that will definitely help me in the future. He said that when I move my hips over the board to initiate the next turn, instead of moving perpendicular to the board, move over and forward on the board to really drive into the next turn (i.e. move the hips at a 45 degree angle from perpendicular as opposed to zero) and stay with the board. He likened it to a football player driving forward as he prepares himself for a tackling.  I tried that on one run and it felt a lot faster.

The overthinking was really getting to me where I couldn’t even finish the runs. I would go on the inside of the stubby on the same gate or completely blow out or get so late at the bottom. So instead digging myself deeper and getting more aggravated, I decided to take a few free runs to get myself together again. My coach came up to me and knew something was wrong and I almost broke down in front of him. I told him how discouraged I was and that I felt like I wasn’t doing anything right. He told me that there are just a few little kinks that I have to work out in my riding but everything is there and I just have to dial it in. He reiterated that my line was causing a lot of the problems because it wasn’t allowing me to do any of the other things I need to work on. But he did say that my toeside turns were really coming along and that some of them were ‘killer’ and he could see my powering the board. So that was encouraging. He also reminded me that I need to do my best every day and that my best is good enough to get to where I need to be. Then he said he noticed that when I train I start getting down the second half of the day and that I can’t beat myself up and so long as I give it my all every run, every day that’s the best I can do.

When we got back to the house we watched video and when I saw my runs I was disappointed. It’s common when being taped to think that you look and feel better than you actually do, and that was just the case. My heelsides were a lot slidier than I thought but my coach did say I had some good speed. Later he noticed that I was still down and he gave me a little pep talk which was helpful. Overall he said that it was a good camp and that I’m definitely progressing.

I still can’t shake the frustration. I’m not doubting my ability to get to the Games but I want to be at that level now. But like most things it’ll just take time and I need to be patient. And I need to do the best I can do every single day.

Three things I absolutely need to work on and get down pat at the next camp:

  1. Round out my line by being more patient when initiating turns
  2. Driving my hips over and forward on the board to start the next turn
  3. Get the board angle up high at the top of the turn (do all the work at the top of the turn) by driving the hips down into the snow. I noticed that when I think about driving my inside hand down into the snow it helps.

So for the next month before the New Zealand camp I just have to keep working hard on my physical conditioning and start working on mental training and watching video of top riders. Overall I believe it was a very productive camp and I’m really happy that I’m developing the ability to turn on my aggression button.

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